With consistency, Western Sierra rolls past Cavaliers
As Western Sierra Collegiate Academy grows, so does the competition that lies ahead. As new members of the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League they are quickly discovering it’s difficult to be good without first being consistent.
The Wolves got a wakeup call hosting Sacramento Adventist Jan. 3, getting hammered 71-33 to open SMAL play. Thursday, WSCA did the same to visiting Sacramento Country Day, 59-43.
“We played a lot of up-higher opponents in the preseason,” said Western Sierra head coach Jake Simms, as to the team’s 3-6 preseason record. “So that’s a factor, but we’ve also been inconsistent. In the games we have to have, sometimes we look really, really good, like tonight. And sometimes we come out and look kind of lackadaisical and we can’t get it going.”
The final score may not have been that impressive, but it is important to note that Simms played only subs in the final quarter. In that final frame, the Wolves were outscored 18-4.
For the first three quarters, the Wolves battered SCD 19-9, 18-8 and 18-8. And Simms did not flinch when the Cavaliers took advantage of the change in personnel.
“It’s kind of like the feel of our team this year, you don’t know what you’re going to get from night to night and we’re working on it,” said Simms. “But you know, tonight was definitely an up night for those guys, but they’ve all had their moments throughout the season.”
The Academy’s big men, Braydon Biel and Jai Kang controlled the boards with 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively. The two also rejected five of Sac Day’s shots.
Biel also hung 20 points on the Cavaliers, including a thundering dunk to wake up the crowd.
From long range, Gabe Whitecotton was relentless, ripping the nets for eight 3-point shots and 24 points. The senior also had three steals.
Sandesh Saravanavijayan and Justin Kim did the yeomen work, dishing out a total of eight assists between them.
Simms knows Sacramento Adventist is the SMAL’s premier team right now, but following his club’s performance Thursday, there was optimism in his voice.
“Sac Advent is going to be tough to beat,” Simms said. “So we’re hoping to be competitive with everybody else and hopefully give them a good shot when we play them.”
If the Sacramento Country Day game was any indication, Adventist might be looking over their shoulder a bit.
Meanwhile, Western Sierra will be on the road for two games and then return to play Cristo Rey. Sacramento Adventist is back on the calendar for Jan. 19.
Lady Wolves load up for league
For much of the preseason, WSCA girls basketball head coach Jason Treanor has been working hard to get his young team to work as a unit.
Thursday night in Rocklin, the Wolves took on Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League foe Sacramento Country Day and appeared much like the team the coach has been looking for. The Academy rolled to a 67-14 win.
With freshman post player Courtney Gage recently returning from concussion protocol, she and her counterparts Moriah Kawas, Ashley Pakzad and Taylor Saukkola took the Cavaliers to task. In fact, the bread-and-butter backcourt play of Brenna Mellish and Lizzie Souza became icing on the cake.
“I kind of got on them and told them we’ve got to balance out the scoring tonight. They had something to focus on and not pass responsibility on and let Brenna or somebody else do it,” Treanor said. “We have to have an inside game to make our outside game work.”
The Wolves opened SMAL competition with two relatively close losses against Sacramento Adventist and Valley Christian, both 4-0. The win over SCD may have helped WSCA to discover the benefits of all five players getting involved in the action, especially in the forecourt.
It should also be noted that Mellish, a senior, was not available for the first league game and unable to start the second game.
“We have a little bit more height than we had before, so I wanted us to utilize that. So when they box-and-one us or double-team Brenna, we can get to the bigs inside and make them pay for that too,” Treanor said. “It’s a work in progress; we’re young, but they’re coming along.”
It worked as designed last Thursday. Kawas and Gage scored 14 and 10, respectively. Mellish had a dozen and Souza added nine.
Western Sierra also gathered in 43 rebounds. Gage had 11 for a double-double; Saukkola had seven boards, Kawas six and Pakzad grabbed five.
The Wolves travel to Buckingham Charter (4-0) Saturday but won’t have to meet the league’s top three teams again in such close succession. Plus, they are scheduled to get each of them on Western Sierra’s home court the next time around.
To prepare for their first season in the SMAL, Treanor scheduled a strong preseason. It cost the club a few wins, but it also exposed the team’s weaknesses.
“We had to really push in order to play from behind. We had to play some stronger teams in the Lincoln tournament and it made us not give up and learn some of our strengths,” Treanor said. “So I’m hoping we can just take care of business.”
Treanor said he has had to rely a lot on Mellish and will likely continue to lean on her leadership the rest of the way. Mellish has been with Treanor all four years and the two are closing in on 100 victories together.